Monster Energy ordered to pay $1.7m in damages to Beastie Boys

Monster Energy has been ordered to pay $1.7m in damages to The Beastie Boys after a court ruled the drinks brand committed wilful copyright infringement by using the band’s tracks in a marketing video without permission.

Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys awarded Beastie Boys.7m in damages from Monster Energy in copyright case.

The video, promoting a snowboarding competition the brand sponsors in Canada, was online for five weeks in 2012 and featured the tracks Sabotage, Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun, Pass the Mic, Make Some Noise and So Watcha Want.

It concluded with the on-screen statement “RIP MCA”, referencing Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch who died a day before the Ruckus in the Rockies snowboarding competition took place. Before his death Yauch wrote into his will that his name, imagery, music or any artistic property created by him should not be used for advertising purposes. 

The Beastie Boys had sought up to $2.5m in damages from Monster, but were awarded $120,000 for each of company’s 10 violations of copyright and a further $500,000 for the drinks brand using the band members’ personas without permission.

Monster Energy’s lawyer Reid Kahn said in the Manhattan court where the hearing took place yesterday (5 June) that the drinks brand plans to appeal the “illogical” ruling, adding that the company believes it owes no more than $125,000.

The company acknowledged it had infringed Beastie Boys’ copyright but said that this was done by an employee in error, not wilfully.

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